New York Times Crossword Gets AR Treatment

(Photo via The New York Times/Instagram)

The New York Times crossword is stepping into the 21st century as an augmented reality game.

The Gray Lady this week launched an AR-enabled version of its popular puzzle as an Instagram Story filter. Visit NYT‘s page or search camera effects on your phone to find Shattered Crosswords, which lets players solve clues by finding broken words on their screen.

Not exactly the five-by-five grid you’re used to, this brain teaser requires users to shift their perspective—literally. You’ll need a relatively flat surface (or at least something your phone perceives as flat) and patience. Zoom, rotate, and pan to find words in a sea of yellow pieces.

You don’t even have to solve the clue to find the right answer. Just slowly move the fragments and the phone until you spot something that looks like a letter. Line them up to form a word, then reap the rewards. It’s all about the angles (though I wouldn’t recommend playing in a public place, unless you want people to stop and stare at the person waving their handset around).

The Times in September announced a multi-year collaboration with Facebook to publish a series of augmented reality-driven reporting on Instagram. To support this work, the media company launched AR Lab, staffed by about a dozen reporters, editors, developers, project managers, 3D artists, and designers working to produce regular content.

The newspaper has also dabbled in virtual reality: Five years ago, it teamed up with Google to deliver more than a million Cardboard viewers to home delivery subscribers as part of a VR project about refugee children in South Sudan, Ukraine, and Syria.